Local Artist Displays Work at UMass

By Kelsey Laning

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Courtesy Curious Expeditions

The University of Massachusetts’ Augusta Savage Gallery plays host to Massachusetts native Anne LaPrade Seuthe this February. LaPrade Seuthe is the director of the Hampden and Central art galleries at the university.

The Augusta Savage Gallery entertains four professional and four student exhibits each year. LaPrade Seuthe, who has been featured in UMass galleries for years, is the first professional to grace the gallery this semester. Located in the New Africa House at the bottom of Clark Hill Road, LaPrade Seuthe displays her project, “Clean Slate.”

Beginning with discarded maps, LaPrade Seuthe uses layers of colors and figures to demonstrate a reinvented image. The longitude and latitude lines stretching across the maps entertain the thought that everything is connected, which seems to be a prominent theme. This main piece reflects something new yet clearly shows what it had been as a clean slate. The painting poses as the basis for the whole collection as it was the first piece LaPrade Seuthe started in 2009.

In the description posted at the entrance, LaPrade Seuthe states how the piece began with the remaking of the map, but as she progressed, the media’s changed and the paintings ended up becoming the maps.

The largest painting in the collection was entitled “Twinkle I.” The dark background contrasted against light blue and white round spots portraying the stars from miles away. These were scattered across the piece surrounding a central cloud of pale white that inspired the viewer to look closer.

“When I stood a little farther away, I could take in the whole painting and interpret it how I’d like to,” sophomore anthropology major Casey McNee stated while admiring “Twinkle I.” This painting had quite a crowd for this exact reason. Everyone was able to see something in this painting that another could not.

LaPrade Seuthe created a sequel to “Twinkle I” appropriately calling it “Twinkle II,” which was easily the piece that gained the most attention. She placed a bright red baby grand piano toy on a canvas and underneath she posted the directions on how to play the infamous song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on the toy. The functional keys and the open invitation to touch the art was enough to draw a crowd.

The vintage toy had reminded LaPrade Seuthe of the one she once had. It had a sticker displayed in the center of the piano depicting children singing and playing around a grand piano and in the top two corners were two tiny songbirds. It was enough to bring anyone back to their childhood.

The 1930 “Atlas of the World” was remade into a spectacular painting called “Open Book.” LaPrade Seuthe painted over pages of an ordinary atlas but with a slightly translucent paint allowing the viewer to see her image as well as the image from the 80-year old atlas. A particular favorite was a painting of a target over a scenic picture from the original pages.

“It was almost like viewing an optical illusion, where I had to focus on her image to really see what was behind it,” sophomore civil engineering major Gary Hinds remarks about “Open Book.” This piece had multiple pages that all intrigued the viewer to look just a little harder.

LaPrade Seuthe summarized the exhibit beautifully in the final lines of her description, stating, “Maps are the tools needed to accomplish the most fundamental of geographic concepts: to locate. For me, paintings do the same.” Her exhibit will be open at the Augusta Savage Gallery in the New Africa House at 180 Infirmary Way until Feb. 28.

Kelsey Laning can be reached at [email protected].